I wuv Woosy. Translation: I love Lucy. That's what I've been hearing around here these days. And even more common than that is, "Where's Woosy? Where's Woosy?" Graham is so concerned about his little sister. He is always looking for a "blankie" to cover her up and her paci to make her stop crying. It's quite adorable to see how smitten he is with the newest girl in the house.
Lucy arrived on 11/10/10 at 9:02 in the morning. After some difficulty getting the spinal to work in the OR(which scared me to death) and having to have a second nurse anesthetist come perform the procedure, we finally got to meet our baby girl. She weighed 6 lbs 13 oz and was 18 1/2 inches long. They were a little concerned about her breathing, so they monitored her closely until about 5:00 pm that evening when they finally decided that she would not need to go to the NICU! This of course meant that I finally got to hold her!
Life is not quite yet back to normal, but I'm sure we'll soon be settling into a routine. I haven't figured out how I will go grocery shopping with 2 kids under 2, but I guess I'll learn soon enough. I'm going to have to scope out Publix to see how all the other moms do it. I don't really think there is a place for two children in the carts!
We're so thankful Lucy arrived safely and so grateful to have another little kid to fill our home and our lives. We love Lucy. That's for sure.
(Sorry, I wrote this a few weeks ago and just forgot to post. I did go to the grocery store today IN THE RAIN with TWO KIDS. Thank goodness they give away free cookies. Otherwise I don't think we would have made it!)
Well in about 9 hours I will be a mother to a little girl. I am a little nervous but mostly excited. I spent Friday night in the hospital because I have officially developed preeclampsia. The doctor was concerned about this and wanted to monitor me overnight. Things looked better on Saturday so he gave me the option of having Lucy or waiting a couple of more weeks. Jeff and I decided to wait.
Today, however, I went for a visit and my blood pressure was high. My doctor came into the room and said, "Pretty please can I deliver your baby in the morning?" How can you resist that? He said there was just no reason to delay the delivery any more. On Saturday he didn't have much of opinion. Today, he felt very strongly about delivering our daughter. So we of course agreed. We're scrambling around the house packing bags, washing baby clothes in Dreft, and just trying to mentally prepare for a baby in the morning. I can't wait to meet her.
If you came to my blog thinking that you were going to see pictures of me from 3rd grade with gaudy make-up and a pink boa around my neck, I'm sorry to dissapoint you. Those aren't the glamour shots I'm referring to. And by the way, is Glamour Shots still in business?
We're talking about Lucy here. I went for Lucy's weekly photo shoot today (aka ultrasound). She's looking great. She weighs in at approximately 5 lbs 13 oz. And she has a lot of hair. Seriously, I never realized you could see hair on an ultrasound. The ultrasound tech pointed it out a few weeks ago.
"Oh look, you can see hair coming down the back of her neck." "The back of her neck?" "Well, she probably has some on the top of her head too, but I can't see it from this angle." "So you mean she doesn't necessarily have a rat tail?"
Don't worry, I got to see the hair on the top of her head today. So rest assured that she is not a baby with a rat tail. On the ultrasound it looks like a ton of hair, but we'll just have to see what it's like in person. I wonder if it's going to be brown, blond, or red? I'm assuming her eyes will be blue. I guess most babies are born with blue eyes anyway, and plus Jeff and I both have blue eyes. Will she be a snuggler unlike her older brother? Will she be as silly as Graham? Jeff thinks it's ridiculous that I wonder about these things before she is born, but I think it's the most natural thing in the world. I mean, hello! I have a person growing inside me, and I want to know what she is like.
For now, I'll settle for weekly "glamour shots." Graham and Lucy just might have more pictures of themselves in utero than in their entire first year of life. I just wish these pictures were in color! How amazing would that be?
Still pregnant. Healthy baby. So thankful. That's about all I've got to say. Although I'm getting so anxious to meet her, I'm grateful that Lucy is hanging out just a little bit longer. I was 34 weeks on Wednesday, and I feel like I can breathe a sigh of relief. Hang in there sweet Lucy. Can't wait to hold you soon.
So let's put this serious stuff aside for a post and talk about hair. Have you seen my son's hair? If you haven't, you need to see it in person. It is crazy long, awesome, curly hair (sorry...just let me brag for a minute). He is a little rocker dude. And when it gets in his face, all you have to do is tell him to fix it, and in Kelly Kapowski fashion, he gets it out of his eyes.
Can't you now understand why we haven't cut it? One day I had G in the bathroom and scissors in my hand. I called Jeff to tell him I was about to cut it, and he would not have it! I think Jeff loves his hair more than I do.
These pictures are probably a couple of months old, so it's even longer. Oh, and just imagine what it looks like when it's wet. I had really planned on taking him to get in cut within the next couple of weeks, but it looks like that is going to have to wait until after Lucy is born. The only downside to these rockin' curls is that he is always getting food in his hair and that he gets called a girl almost every time we get out of the house. Hello! Boys can have curly hair too! People just don't get it. I guess they aren't looking at the brown and blue guitar shirt or vintage Curious George shirt he is wearing when they ask me, "How old is she?"
So to cut or not to cut? That is the question. I keep finding reasons not to cut these curls, and I need some advice!
I'm blown away. Seriously, I've never been so amazed by the generosity of others. Meals are being scheduled for the next 8 weeks from my church. Friends have offered to come from states far, far away to help me take care of Graham. And someone at my church is paying a lady to come clean my house every other week until Lucy arrives. Really? You would do this for me? Some of these people are close friends, and some are church members who don't even know our family that well. God's people are amazing. I know that everyone can't help in the same capacity, but all the phone calls, emails, and offers to help even in small ways really mean a lot to Jeff and me. I hope that I never, never forget this generosity and that I will give to others with no reservations, no strings attached, and with pure joy. Thank you God for being the perfect example of generosity that blows my mind.
I went to the doctor on Monday and the nurse wouldn't even tell me what my blood pressure was. It was really high. She told me to lie down on my side and took it again several minutes later. It was a little better. The doctor walked in and told me that he wasn't sending me to the hospital, but he was putting me on bed rest for the rest of the pregnancy (I've got 8 weeks until my due date). He said I could do only what I did when I was in the hospital with Graham. Sit up, lay down, and go to the bathroom. Needless to say, he told me I couldn't really take care of Graham. I couldn't just call up my manager and tell her I was taking a leave of absence like I did last time. I have to have someone come help me take care of my own kid 24/7. I cried, I asked questions, and I tried to make sense of it all. The truth is, I can't really make sense of it. The doctor said that it would develop into preeclampsia, but it's just a matter of whether they decide to deliver Lucy before the preeclampsia develops. Preeclampsia is more that just a blood pressure issue in pregnancy. It can appear all of a sudden or it can appear gradually, and it can affect both the mother and the baby (the mother's organs, the growth of the baby, etc). It is the leading cause of maternal/fetal death. Not really one of those facts you want to read about, but thankfully in the U.S. this is rarely the case. Thank goodness for prenatal care! Everyone just says that it is a crazy disease. They don't know what causes it and the only cure is delivery of the baby. So that makes it difficult. Obviously doctors want to keep the mother pregnant until she can deliver a healthy baby, but sometimes in the best interest of both mom and baby it means a premature delivery. I'm frustrated, I'm sad, I'm bored, and I'm trying to trust in God all at the same time. I had a 75% chance of this NOT happening again. Why do I have to be in the 25%? Maybe if we knew this was going to happen again, then Jeff and I would have decided to not have any more children. And what would life be like one day without little Lucy Paige? God has a plan, I'm sure. I was hoping I would not meet this baby until December 1st when I have a c-section scheduled, but it looks like we'll probably meet her a little sooner. I really want to make it to 34 weeks. That's just two weeks from today. Even better than that would be 36 weeks. Some of those 36 week babies don't even have to stay in the NICU. And any further than that would just be icing on the cake. So maybe, just maybe, since this is not a bartering game, I will ask God for the icing on the cake. It's scary to write that down, because I know he might not decide to keep me pregnant for that long, but I know that he CAN. So Lord, I beseech you, please keep this baby inside for 4+ weeks. And on a completely selfish note, I'm praying that Jeff and I will get to hold Lucy after she's born. I know that seems ridiculous compared to everything else going on, but it was one of the hardest things not to get to hold Graham after the delivery. Mommas were made to hold their babies and visiting them the next day in the NICU just isn't the same.
Thank you Lord! I'm writing this post from my home and not a hospital room! The hospital is brand spanking new (just opened on Saturday), but I'm much more content at my own place. And besides, they are still trying to figure out what they're doing over there. The staff is great, but they've got a lot of new technology to work with so it's going to take some time. Almost everyone who walked in my room said they really didn't know what they were doing. I told Jeff several weeks ago that I was so glad I wasn't going to be the first c-section at the new hospital. And then I got sent to the hospital, and then Jeff rode on the elevator with the husband of the first c-section patient. I guess it all went smoothly. I'm home for now, but I'm a little nervous about the coming weeks. My blood pressure has been great until this week which is very similar to what it did when I was pregnant with Graham. I'm hoping that the doctor doesn't put me on bed rest on Monday. I'm trying to make the most of this weekend because I know from here on out I will be monitored very closely and need to be prepared for bed rest or a hospital stay. So that's where we stand. I wasn't very good about updating the blog when I was in the hospital with G, but I'll try to be a little better this time around. Hopefully, there will be nothing to update. Oh, and by the way, Lucy is doing great. Whatever is going on in my body doesn't seem to be affecting her. She's moving around like crazy, and I got to see her cute chubby cheeks Monday night. She even stuck her tongue out at us!
Yesterday, what I'd been scared of this entire pregnancy actually happened. I went to the doctor's office and my blood pressure was high. They immediately sent me to the hospital and kept me overnight for monitoring. I kept telling myself that I had a 75% chance of not having preeclampsia again with this pregnancy. And then I lost it. Why do I bank in percentages and not in the God of my salvation? I still don't know if I have preeclampsia now or if it will develop in the coming weeks, but I'm somewhat on pins and needles until about 8:00 tonight. I convinced the doctor to let me go home from the hospital for the afternoon and pending the results of some tests, I may be back in the hospital this evening. I'm mentally trying to prepare myself for another stay in the hospital, but I'm trying to be hopeful at the same time. I'm praying that I get to enjoy the rest of this pregnancy on two feet for 2 more months. But only God knows what the rest of this pregnancy will look like. I'm worried about Lucy, I'm worried about being separated from Graham and Jeff, and I'll admit it- I'm worried about myself. With Graham, I was in the hospital for 6 weeks. So it's a weird feeling right now. I feel like I need to make the most of the next few hours just in case I'm in the hospital for the next couple of months. But I'm on bed rest for the afternoon so there's no time for fixing up the nursery, cleaning our bathtub, or rearranging Graham's new room. I don't think that I'll ever go down in the books as a woman who was "made to have babies." Pregnancy and me just don't seem to mix well.
I was encouraged today when my sweet friend Martha emailed me these verses: "If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night, even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you. For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well." Psalm 139:11-14.
And I cling to Psalm 139 not because I have some incredible trust in God right now, but because I know that he can instill that trust within my heart and that repeating his words can convince my doubting soul.
When I was in kindergarten and getting ready for school in the mornings, my mom used to say, "Jennifer, you are slow as molasses." And I thought absolutely nothing of it. You see, I always thought she was saying that I was "slow as Lassie" and the only Lassie that I knew was a pretty fast dog who had a TV show. Maybe it was a trip to Lambert's (the only home of the throwed rolls) that made me realize what slow as molasses really meant. After tossing you your rolls from across the restaurant, they come by with a spoonful of slow dripping molasses for you to put on your bread. And man that stuff is slooow!
I'm not sure if my mom was exaggerating, but I really am slow as molasses these days. By this time with Graham, I was already on "modified bed rest." I could do things that didn't stress me out, and I was able to rest a lot. As I've mentioned before, Jeff called it "glorified bed rest" because I could do all the fun things, but I didn't have to clean or cook if I didn't feel up to it. I am so thankful to not be on bed rest, but I'm getting a taste of what it's like to carry on with normal life in your third trimester. I've still be going to the gym, but before I getting any applause for keeping that up, let me just tell you what that looks like. If I'm not feeling great, I just walk on the treadmill, but if I feel up to it, I still try the elliptical. While I'm doing the elliptical the computer often reads, "PAUSE." I wonder why in the world it is saying that I have paused when I'm still going, but then I realize that I am moving so slowly that the machine thinks that I have temporarily stopped. How aggravating! They need a pregnancy mode on those things!
So yep, I'm slow as molasses these days trying to keep up with a toddler who is anything but slow. But that's okay because he'll soon have a little sister who will be running around right next to him!
In case you wonder where we live, we live in that house that has really, really tall grass. That is until a couple of days ago. Jeff has been so busy with work and a remodeling project to get ready for little Lucy that our yard has been rather neglected. But this week the weather wasn't quite as hot, and Jeff had the opportunity to cut the grass. Of course G was right there beside him cutting the concrete with his own little lawn mower. Because the grass was so high, there were tons and tons of grass clippings to rake. Yesterday, Jeff finished up the yard while I cooked dinner. I asked Jeff if he could take G outside with him so I could finish up without a baby hanging from my legs.
While I made dinner, I looked out of the kitchen window. There was Jeff sweating and working hard to get all the grass clippings up. And there was G who would come in right after Jeff and shuffle his feet through the pile dispersing the grass clippings. At times I laughed out loud at the scene. It happened over and over again. And then Jeff stopped what he was doing and bent down on G's level. "Oh no. A spanking is coming," I thought. But no, Jeff just bent down and gave G a kiss...just because he wanted to give him a kiss. They worked some more, and then Jeff took another break to push G in the swing. Finally, about the time dinner was ready, Jeff finished raking the clippings and had a nice pile stacked up by the street.
So this got me to thinking about God. It got me thinking how he has an overall plan for his people and how sometimes we get in there with our sin and just get dirty. Oh, our sin is still ultimately part of his plan, and he uses it to mold us and bring glory to himself, but he would like nothing more than for his people to be obedient. But we aren't. We jump in the grass piles. We even wallow in them from time to time. (Like when G just completely sat down in the grass pile). And God still bends down and gives us a kiss. He tells us that he loves us and shows us grace. This doesn't mean he never corrects or disciplines his people, but he is "slow to anger and swift to bless." And ultimately, despite all our sin, despite how dirty we get in the process, he accomplishes all things to his glory.
In a very in your face type of way, children expose us. They show us who we really are to God. We look at them and see their unknowing disobedience, we see their blatant disobedience, and we know that God sees the same thing in us. And just as we love and adore our children, so God loves and adores us...only our love is fallible and finite, and his love is perfect and infinite.
I just got back from taking Graham on his first trip to McDonald's. Some of you are probably thinking,"Disgusting...why would you let your child in that place." Others of you are probably saying, "Why have you deprived that poor kid." But it is what it is. I have no aversion to McDonald's, but I do have this fear of the playground. When I think about playgrounds, my heart starts beating faster, my forehead begins to "glisten," and I anticipate every bad thing that can happen. So what's the big deal, Jen? I'll tell you what the big deal is. I have visions of my son getting trapped in some tunnel. I have visions of me being 9 months pregnant trying to free little G and then getting trapped myself. I have visions of the fire department coming out to rescue us and having to cut through the plastic around my big belly in order to free us. That's what I think about. So I guess it's really not G's safety that I'm concerned about as much as it is my own embarrassment. But we made it. Graham couldn't even climb up to the tunnels and slides, so we're all good. No entrapment, no firefighters, no embarrassment. G loved running around and playing in the "little kids" section, so I guess I can say our first trip to McDonald's was a success! And since I don't have a picture of his first visit to Mickey D's, I thought I would leave you with a picture of his first trip to Krispy Kreme. Healthy, I know. But, it was free doughnut day. How are you going to pass that up?
Girl! Sorry to keep some of you hanging. Yep, Lucy Paige is cooking away in my tummy. At least that's what they tell us. We invited our families over for the reveal party. Jeff's parents thought it was going to be a boy, and my parents thought it was going to be a girl. The only reason my mom was 97% sure it was going to be a girl is because she analyzed everything I said from the time of my ultrasound until the reveal party!
So, I've been out to buy some pink things. It's so crazy looking at girl clothes. I had a hard time looking at boy stuff when I was pregnant with Graham because I didn't think any of it was cute. And now I am so boy minded that I think all the girls clothes are ridiculous looking. But they're growing on me. I mean, I love girly things, but some of the stuff out there is just over the top! I think I'm just too picky when it comes to clothes. I need something sweet, vintage, cool, classy, and soft. Is that too much to ask for? :) Sweet Lucy, I hope you're not a picky as your mother!
Secrets, secrets are no fun. Secrets, secrets hurt someone. You know who that someone is? Me! I've got a secret, and I can't tell anyone. We were supposed to have an ultrasound this Monday to find out our baby's gender, but I ended up having it a week early. We had a "reveal" party planned for our families after the doctor's appointment on Monday. We were able to move the party to Sunday, but that still means I have to wait 5 days to share the secret. It's killing me. I don't like to keep secrets. I don't know how people keep it a secret from everyone else until the baby's birth. But since we planned this party, I feel like we have to follow through and at least keep it a secret for a few days. I can do it...just one more day to go. So do you think it's going to be a boy or a girl? A boy would be fun because Graham would have a little brother close in age, and they would always be best friends, right? Plus, I already have stuff for a boy. And I know what it's like to be a mom to a boy...and I love being a mom to a boy! But a girl would also be fun. I like to do fun, girly things sometimes, and it would be great to have a little girl around to teach how to paint her toenails and how to cook. Preferably not at the same time. Anyway, I'll let you know once the word is out. You can leave a comment and let me know what your guess is, because I know people feel so proud of themselves when they guess the right gender. I know I sure get excited when I've guessed correctly!
So, I've started doing guest blogging on my dear friend Lydia's blog. She has an amazing business where she personalizes stationery, invitations, announcements and more. She made Graham's birth announcements, and she is doing the invitations for my sister's wedding that is coming up in just 8 weeks. You have to check out her beautiful work! And you can stop by there every Friday for a post from me.
Today I asked G for a kiss, and he came up to me and landed a big wet one on my lips. I turned around to go into another room, and he ran up behind me saying, "The baby!" I bent down, he lifted up my shirt, and gave a big kiss to the baby. In that moment I forgot about the multiple toys he took away from a kid today, the several times he threw himself on the ground when I told him to give a toy back, and the time he spent in time out. It's amazing how sinful and yet how sweet a little toddler can be.
Graham cried as I was leaving the house this morning. You might be thinking,"aww...that's so sweet," but the truth is that he often cries when just anyone leaves the house. Even if he's just met you. As I stepped outside and shut the door, I could hear Jeff scooping him up saying, "It's all right. Come on G! You want to go jump on the bed?" No wonder he's been a Daddy's boy all day long.
"Help! I'm stuck in the bathroom, and I can't get out." These are the words Graham would have told me the other day if he could only speak in complete sentences. You see, Graham has this fetish with doors and has had one ever since he started crawling around the house. He loves to go into a room and shut the door. But his love ends there. After a few minutes, he starts crying because he also loves people, and the door that he can close but cannot yet open keeps him separated from people.
Well, one day Graham went into the bathroom and closed the door. He started whining, so I went to open the door and let him out. Plus, who knows what he could get into in the bathroom? About two seconds later he did the same thing- walked into the bathroom and shut the door. I heard him whimper, but told him, "you're just going to have to wait a second while I find my shoes." I quickly found my shoes and went to open the door, but there was one big problem. I couldn't open it. At first I thought G was holding onto the knob preventing me from opening the door, but soon I realized he wasn't that strong. I turned the knob and turned the knob but...nothing. Somehow my little boy can go into a room, shut the door, and lock the door, but he cannot unlock the door or open the door. I started to panic, but caught myself, slowed down, and made a call to Jeff. Jeff told me to go get a coat hanger and try to unlock the door. Now why didn't I think of that? I got a coat hanger and put it through the tiny hole in the door knob, but still nothing. So then I knew the only other option I had was to take the door knob off of the door. I got the screw driver out and finally got the knob off the door. But the door still wouldn't open because I couldn't get the knob off on the other side of the door. I told Jeff the bad news, and he said he would head home to try and help me. In the meantime, Graham was starting to cry a little more. I went into the playroom and found a coloring book. I ripped a page of Charlie Brown's Christmas out of it, grabbed a few crayons, and slid the page through the crack between the door and the floor. Maybe this would occupy his time? (I'm sure you all are well aware that 15 minutes in bathroom jail is like a life sentence in the penitentiary.) But, every time I slid the paper under the door, G would bend down and slide it right back to me. And I thought it was so clever of me to send him coloring pages under the door! Finally, I decided to try and open the door again. I grabbed some pliers, jiggled the other side of the knob like crazy, and at last was able to get the door open.
Whew! What an afternoon. I had hoped Graham had done a little cleaning while he was in bathroom jail, but the floors and bathtub were just as dirty as when he first went in. Maybe before I teach him to unlock and open the door, I'll teach him how to clean the bathroom. You know, just in case it ever happens again.
At 8:15 last night I was just about ready to put Graham down for the night when Jeff came into the room asking for a mason jar. He came back from the kitchen with one in hand and said, "Let's go catch lightning bugs!" "It's kinda late," I said while looking down at G in his dinosaur pajamas. I myself already had on a t-shirt and pajama bottoms. "He's just a baby," Jeff said, and to that I smiled and we headed out to the backyard. Graham squatted down in the grass and stared at his parents running around like crazy people grabbing for the air. Once we felt like we had a decent light show, we headed indoors. Jeff turned out all the lights, sat down on the floor, and began giving Graham a science lesson on why lighting bugs really light up. It was apparently a science lesson for me as well as I had never really contemplated the phenomenon. Graham just sat down on the floor next to his Daddy watching and pointing to the bugs in the jar. It was just about the most adorable thing I've ever seen. I wanted to take a picture, but the house was completely dark. So I'm writing about it now, so I'll always have that mental picture. Graham even learned a new word while he was sitting there last night. It was "bug" of course! Lightning bugs and pj's...such a sweet way to end the day.
The night before I found out I was pregnant with #2, I didn't sleep well. That's when I knew something was up. I always sleep well unless of course I'm pregnant. I decided that morning that after the gym, I would swing by the Dollar Tree to pick up some pregnancy tests. A friend of mine who recently had a baby told me they worked, so I thought I'd give it a shot. I'm not one to hold things in, but I decided to keep my planned trip to the Dollar Tree a secret from Jeff.
So that Friday morning I made my way into the Dollar Tree. I grabbed a baggie of quarters I had in my car and plopped Graham into the shopping basket. I wasn't quite sure where to go. I surely didn't want to ask someone what aisle the pregnancy tests were on, so I quickly browsed the store. I thought about buying a few items so it didn't look like I was only buying pregnancy tests but realized that was ridiculous. Plus, these people didn't know me anyway. So I finally found the tests. With Graham, I would have never dreamed of buying a pregnancy test from the Dollar Tree. If someone told me they worked, I wouldn't believe them. No thank you. I'm sticking with my $13.00 a pop EPT or Clearblue tests. But my how things have changed. One being that we're on a stricter budget these days and buying a pregnancy test for $1.00 sounds like it's worth a try. As I've mentioned before, we are doing the Dave Ramsey envelope system. My dilemma was that we'd never discussed what budget pregnancy tests are going to come out of. Well, it wasn't really that big of a dilemma, but I thought I'd just use the bag of quarters that had been sitting in my car for months.
With a somewhat embarrassed face, I put my 2 pregnancy tests on the counter. I knew if one said I was pregnant, then I wouldn't believe it. I needed two to be sure. The cashier told me the price and I started digging in my quarters' baggie. "I'm sorry. I know it's annoying, but I'm paying you in quarters." "Oh honey, we love quarters here," she replied. I was glad to hear those words because I felt cheap. I felt like a 15 year old who sneaks away from home to the dollar store to buy a pregnancy test with the change she found in the couch all the while hoping her worries will be put at ease by seeing one red line, not two.
"I'm at the Dollar Tree buying pregnancy tests in change," I thought. Being insecure about the whole situation, I wondered what everyone around me thought. "Look at that poor girl. Too young to even have one baby, and now she's about to have two. Must not know what birth control is. Heaven help her." But I wasn't that person. First of all, I'm not that young and second of all, this was a baby that we really wanted. Not an "Oops I Did It Again" kind of thing.
Well I hoped I could leave that trashy feeling behind in the store, so I stepped into the parking lot with G in one hand and the fate of my next 8 months in the other. I loaded Graham into the car and wondered if I should really take the test or just save it for another month. "After how long it took to get pregnant with Graham, surely I can't be pregnant now," I thought to myself. But I gave in. I put Graham down for a nap and took the test. "No way," I thought. So I took the 2nd test. Surely two tests couldn't be wrong. I called the doctor and they confirmed it that afternoon for the third time. At least I did better than last time when I took 5 pregnancy tests before going to the doctor. I thought I was going to go crazy that afternoon waiting on Jeff to come home. I wanted to tell everyone who called me that I was pregnant, but I knew I needed to tell Jeff first. I made a video of Graham as I told him he was going to be a big brother and I made Jeff watch the video of G "doing something super cute" as soon as he got home from work. Finally I could tell some other people! Well, all this to say that yep, we've got a little baby on it's way due December 8th, and yep, those Dollar Tree pregnancy tests really work. Stop wasting your money on the expensive stuff. $1.00 can tell you if your suspicions are true or not.
A couple of weeks ago, my parents picked up Graham on their way from my sister's graduation in Knoxville back to Memphis. I was heading to Memphis the next day, so I thought a few hours away from him wouldn't kill me. Plus I was exhausted and could use a break! When I got to Memphis the next day, there was my little boy walking around the house with a rubber snake around his neck. He would come up to you and try to "get you" with the snake and other times he would just roam the house with the snake on his shoulders. It was a little scary looking, but he loved it, and I couldn't take away something that his Nattie had given him! A few days later we were in the car on our way to the zoo. G of course had his snake with him! One minute he was biting the snake's head and the next minute I heard a loud POW! My eyes quickly shot over to Graham, and it looked like this 16 month old had suddenly developed a refined palate for caviar. He had tiny black beads pouring out of his mouth. It took me a minute to figure out what had happened. "Oh my gosh, oh my gosh. The snake broke!" I yelled as my sister found a place to pull over. Graham started crying a little, but I needed to quickly dig out all the beads from his mouth! Finally I got them out, although I was sure he swallowed a few of them in the process. Thanks to phones with Internet, we quickly discovered the beads were not toxic and continued on our way to the zoo- sans the snake around Graham's neck. Lesson learned: If you have a little kid who wants to play with a rubber snake, you better watch out. Those fake snakes just might come to life! That's all I'm saying.
*note* please sing the next 5 lines to the tune of "The Brady Bunch"
Until this one day when this lady ate some tacos And she knew it was much more than a crunch Her belly really started growing And that's the way she got the baby bump! The baby bump. The baby bump. That's the way she got the baby bump!
I know you may think it's impossible, but I already have a baby bump. I'm only 8 weeks pregnant, and I'm wearing a maternity dress today. It pretty much happened overnight. On Sunday I was absolutely starving. I was sitting in church seriously contemplating going back to the nursery to swipe some goldfish from Graham's diaper bag. It would be embarrassing, but I thought it might be necessary. I decided to hold out. I know this is bad, but I was hoping that the communion bread wasn't already broken up into little pieces. I needed some nourishment...badly! Jeff got called in to a job, so it was just Graham and me at church. The two of us left, and I stopped by the closest restaurant, Taco Bell, and ordered a burrito and a taco. I didn't think my stomach would make it the 5 extra minutes it would take to get home and fix something. I gobbled down my food and noticed that the dress that I was so recently excited about fitting back into was getting a little snug in the midsection. Then, on Wednesday something drastic happened. I was at the gym working out when of course one of the mirrors caught my eye. I don't know why they have to have so many mirrors at the gym. Who wants to see themselves looking like a fool anyway? But they do, and I couldn't help but stare at my tummy. "Oh no," I thought. "I have a baby bump." I got home and googled "can you be showing at 8 weeks." Most of the results said you can't really show until 10 weeks, but I'm here to tell you (show you) that it can be a little sooner. My sister came in town later that day, and I could tell she was looking at my stomach. "I've got a tummy!" I cried. "Well, I wasn't going to say anything, but you do," she replied. So there...it's official. Even my sister agrees. Can't wait to see what I look like in 7 months. I mean, thay say you start showing earlier after your first child, but come on! 8 weeks? And how did it happen in just a couple of days. One day my stomach just pooched, and I've tried sucking it in, but it just won't work. So here I go. I'm embracing the lovely baby bump. If you ask me when I'm due, just know it's probably a lot further down the road than you think. Like the Christmas season, like December 8th to be exact. No pictures for now, but if you're someone who sees me on a regular basis, I thought you might want to know how I got the baby bump. Steer clear of Taco Bell, or you might get one too.
Last Thursday I met my friend Bekah and her son at Chick-fil-a. I went up to the counter, placed my order for some yummy food, paid for the food out of my "eating out" envelope (check out the Dave Ramsey envelope system), and placed my envelope on the tray with all of my food. We had a good time at lunch. We talked, ate, and watched the boys smile at each from one high chair to the other. The Chick-fil-a employees came by and got us refills, brought us mints, and even took away our trash. How do they find such great employees? It's just like the people at Publix who are genuinely happy and excited to help me. I don't get it, but I sure love it. Anyway, we finished our lunch, and I loaded G into the car. I glanced at the diaper bag and wondered where my envelope of money was. I began looking everywhere but couldn't find it. Then, I remembered. I had placed the envelope on my tray. If I had thrown the trash away myself, I probably would have looked down and realized it was there. But when the Chick-fil-a worker came by, I was scrambling to get it together, and never thought about the money. Regardless, it was still completely my fault. I called Jeff because I didn't know what to do. I couldn't go back in the store and dig through the trash while trying to hold on to a 1 year old who can't sit still for 2 seconds. Jeff was nearby, so he said he would come help me. I informed one of the employees of what happened, and a manager immediately sent two workers to start going through the trash in the back of the store. I hadn't thought about that...of course Chick-fil-a would not make me do the work. They are just that type of company. So they searched through chicken nuggets, Polynesian sauce, and mushy french fries and found my envelope. When the brought the money back to me, it was in a brand new Chick-fil-a envelope. The manager apologized and said she included a few coupons for my trouble. My trouble? They were the ones who had to dig through the trash due to my blunder. I thanked her again and again. I was sooo impressed. I ended up leaving with more money than I had when I walked in if you count the free combo and free kids meal coupons they gave me. Now I should say, that is customer service!
This week one of my friends got some tragic news...the kind of thing you hope you nor any of the ones you love never have to deal with. I want to wish away and pray away her family's pain. I want to make it all better for her, and yet I know that the pain is still going to be there. My friend has had enough pain over the past few years, so why does she have to go through something else? I find myself wondering what to do with sorrow like this. What encouragement can be found in the midst of such hurt?
And then I think about this week...this special week when we celebrate the death and Resurrection of Jesus. What if Jesus' life ended merely with death on the cross. What if Good Friday was the end of the story? Jesus was born, he lived, and he died. Ah....what depression would overtake my soul if it all ended on Friday. But, it doesn't. The title of a sermon I once heard was "Sunday's A Comin.'" How true it is. Our souls are uplifted by the fact that Sunday came and Jesus rose. We see the complete humanity of Jesus as he asks God to "take this cup" and spare him the gruesome death on the cross. Even Jesus did not want to bear such hardship. However, Jesus continues,"nevertheless not my will but Yours be done." As we read of Jesus' betrayal, flogging, and death on the cross, sometimes the only way to get through the verses is knowing that "Sunday's A Comin.'"
As believers we can have encouragement in our personal lives because Sunday came and Sunday will come. Sunday is awaiting those who are in Christ. Our death is not the end of life. There is something so perfect and beautiful awaiting us and that enables us to trudge through life's difficulties. Sweet Marth, "Sunday's a Comin.'" One day you will be where "sickness, sorrow, pain, and death are felt and feared no more."
As I waited for Jeff to complete the sentence, I thought about all the possible endings. Would he say, "because I no longer have to eat Hungry Man dinners?" Probably not. He loves those things and eats them whenever I go out of town! Would he say, "because you're such a good mom," "because you're so pretty," or "because you make me happy?" That would be awfully sweet, but I wasn't sure if he would go there. So I just waited for him to complete the sentence. "I'm so glad I married you because I no longer have to catch the garter at weddings!" Was he serious? Of all the sweet romantic things he could have said, he is so glad he married me for that? But there was little time for me to be upset. I couldn't help but laugh. With wedding season just around the corner and my brother and sister both getting married in the fall, it could definitely wear a guy out having to leap through the air in an attempt to snatch a lacy garter from a guy who's had little experience at shooting them off to a crowd of lonely boys. I'm so, so glad I could spare Jeff from such an inconvenience!
One day you can walk easily under a table, and one day you cannot. It is a huge milestone in the life of a toddler, but none of the books seem to mention it. I'm proud to say that Graham can no longer walk under the table or the desk without hitting his head. After a week of tears and bumps, I think he has finally caught on. Now he only gazes nostalgically at the space between the floor and the top of the table and remembers fondly the games he once played. And as he grows, he's moving on to bigger and better things. These days he is a little preoccupied with doing his squats, building a tower of blocks (just two), and saying, "Go, go, go!" Who knows what's next?
It's amazing how quickly things change. I thought Graham was going to be pouty and unhappy forever, and now he is back to his usual, happy self...for the most part, at least! He's walking all over the place and those teeth are finally coming in! And since things are going pretty well, I thought I'd share a few cute stories about Graham. He's being pretty adorable these days! One day this week I was sitting on the ground singing,"Knock, knock, knocking on heaven's door..." The poor kid is going to be so confused about what is a real kids' song. One minute I'm singing the "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and the next I'm singing "Knocking on Heaven's Door!" But while I was singing, Graham crawled out of my lap, walked over to the wall and began knocking. It was pretty cute...no no, it was not a fluke! He has just recently made the word connection. Yesterday, I was brushing my hair which is a pretty rare occurence. If you have curly hair, you understand. Brushing it just makes the curls look funny. But anyway, I guess since Graham never sees me do it, he was quite fascinated with the whole thing. When I finished, he picked up the brush and began brushing his own hair and mine as well. It's so funny watching him become a little copy cat. And then today while I was getting ready in the bathroom, Graham snatched a piece of toliet paper off the roll, put it up to his nose, and walked around the house trying to blow. We've obviously done lots of nose blowing the past few weeks and the kid has caught on. It's all quite adorable, but it also makes me a little nervous. Graham is going to start copying me- the good, the bad, the silly, and the ridiculous!
I've been wanting to use this line in a blog title, and finally, I got my chance. When my sister was in a church play, this was one of her lines. For some reason this line with that cute, half southern, half British accent, just makes me smile. No, she's not British, but for some reason she has a twinge of the English accent and we're just not sure why. But anyway, I have been working harder than the devil at a deacons' meeting trying to keep Graham happy. To put it nicely, we've had a rough month. Stomach virus, 5 shots in one day, two seperate reactions to his shots, a few fevers, four teeth fighting their way through the gums, and seperation anxiety just beginning. Did I mention Graham has four teeth trying to appear? Just wanted to make sure. Needless to say, I have quite a fussy baby. When I'm cooking, he holds on to my leg so I can't move freely about the kitchen. When I'm sitting down, he wants me to hold him for 2 seconds, then he wants me to put him down, then he wants me to hold him. He has also started this shrill scream when he gets frustrated or when he is mad, and of course if I am not holding him while I try to remove hot pans from the oven, he is going to scream.
At least I have some days or some hours when he is happy- otherwise I would be knocking on the doors of Allstate asking for my job back! In the midst of not feeling well, Graham's been trying to walk. He took his first steps in the middle of December. Then, he took several more steps in the beginning of January. Then, the week of his birthday he was walking all over the place. Now, he has reverted back to crawling. He is playing games with me for sure! I tell someone he's walking, and then they only see him crawl. Today he was walking all over the place, yesterday his preferred mode of transportation was crawling. I guess, for now, it's a crawl/walk combo. He'll convert to walking when he feels like it!
We had a pretty low key birthday party. Mainly family, a pot of chili, and of course some birthday cake. I had fun making elephant decorations for the party, and I'm sure Graham really appreciated it! Graham wasn't sure what to think about his cake, but he eventually dug in. He accidentally ended up having 3 cakes, so I gave him the 3rd cake for breakfast on his real birthday. I guess I'm making it a family tradition.
Last night I took a break to play with Graham and make him happy! I was lying on the floor and he was climbing all over me as if I were a playground! I said, "Love you Graham," and he bent down and put his face near mine. I had no idea what he was doing. Then I saw him open his mouth. I tried it again, "Love you, " and G did the same thing. I kept doing it and doing it, and even from across the room, Graham would come over and give me a big fat kiss. He had given me kisses before, but yesterday he made the connection that when I say, "love you" I usually give him a kiss. It was the most adorable thing I think I've ever seen him do. I even got my mom on the phone and when she said, "Love you," he would kiss the phone! That boy still wins my heart even though the past few weeks have been utterly frustrating!
So that's what's been going on in the Straka home. We're working hard at loving on and caring for a baby who's not so much a baby anymore. He's got overalls, wears shoes, says a few words, and is even semi walking. Where did the baby go?
I think the week after Graham was born was the most difficult week of my life. Emotionally I'd been fairly stable throughout my hospital stay, but I was a wreck after givin birth to Graham (I can't imagine what parents go through when their baby is in the NICU for months). My doctor was visiting me one morning and said, "I think you did better than any patient I've ever had in the hospital for so long, but now I think we need to talk about some medicine for you." I convinced him to wait. I told him that I'd never struggled with depression and that I thought I would be much better once Graham and I were home together. Not that I thought taking the medicine was wrong, but I just wanted to give it some more time. So I would get up in the mornings and go see Graham down the hall. I'd push the button on the door, tell the nurse who I was, and the NICU doors would open. But before I could make my way to his bed, I'd wash my hands with some super duper soap and put on a gown. The first few days he was covered with wires and had a tube of oxygen running to his nose. I didn't think I would be able to hold him, but before I knew it, one of the nurses had him in my arms. As the days progressed, the wires diminished. Jeff and I would go to the feedings throughout the day. When I was by myself with Graham, I would just hold him, rock him, and sing him songs. There were so many things that were unnatural about Graham being in the NICU, so I clung to what was natural.
I often cried when I left the NICU. Again it seemed so unnatural to leave my son with someone else, and the doctors were so vague about when he would get to go home. One night I was furious when a NICU nurse told me I needed to leave and get some rest. I had been at Graham's bedside for a couple of hours just touching his arm, and she said that he was not getting good rest with me by his side. Was she serious? Wasn't I the mom?
When I got back to my room, the nurse usually came in to take my blood pressure. For some reason, my blood pressure continued to rise. I had to be put on medications and was told I couldn't be dismissed from the hospital until it was under control. I'm sure that made my blood pressure became even more elevated by the mere fact that it was high! I was told that preeclampsia could last 6 weeks post partum. I could not fathom another 6 weeks in the hospital- I was reaching my breaking point.
But God ever so faithfully worked in me and worked in Graham, and a week after Graham was born, we both made our way back home- a home that I had left 6 weeks earlier planning to only be gone for a couple of hours for a doctor's visit. Being in a car, eating food in my own kitchen, and sleeping in my own bed...it was all surreal. And not to mention the fact that I had a baby sleeping in the other room. He wasn't suppose to be in the world for another month. Let me reword that...he wasn't due for another month, but he quite obviously was suppose to enter this world on January 24, 2009.
People often talk about how they grow in their faith in the midst of a difficult situation. People are often motivated to pray more fervently and read the Scriptures more diligently during trials. Unfortunately, this did not happen to me. I wish I could say I became a prayer warrior during this hardship, but I didn't. My friends and family were probably praying more than I was! However, months later, I can look back on the situation and see how God was faithful despite my own efforts. God brought healing to both Graham and me even though I wasn't reciting the Psalms from dawn to dusk and even though I wasn't in constant prayer. It doesn't mean that I shouldn't improve in those areas, but it does mean that God delivers despite what his people do, and for that I will be eternally grateful.
So that concludes it. Five stories about how Graham entered this world. Five stories that help me remember that God is faithful. Five stories that give me a taste of God's goodness. "Oh taste and see that the Lord is good, how blessed is the man who puts his refuge in Him."
A year ago today I got up around 5:00 am. They started inducing me around 5:30. My doctor broke my water mid morning and I got an epidural (make that two epidurals) when the contractions became stronger. (Unfortunately the first epidural only worked on one side of my body). I didn't feel good...but it wasn't the worst pain I'd ever been in. I'll have to attribute that pain to a kidney stone. All day long I was calm but uncomfortable. I was given magnesium via iv, and as the nurses assured me, it made me feel like I had the flu. And all day long I waited. I didn't really watch tv or talk. I didn't ask for those back rubs that husbands are supposed to give wives when they're in labor. I didn't really want to be touched. I just waited. The doctor thought there would be a baby come late afternoon, but still there was no Graham. The nurses increased the pitocin but my contractions were irregular. One nurse told me, "these are the strangest contractions I've ever seen." I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do with that information, but I knew things weren't going as I had hoped. When the evening came, my doctor mentioned a c-section. He said he was willing to wait, but he thought I was going to have a c-section. So Jeff and I decided to wait a hour more. When the doctor returned, I had progressed only slightly and my contractions had decreased in intensity. So a c-section it was. I always thought c-sections were quick, but it seemed to take forever. I kept asking why Graham wasn't crying and the doctor assured me that the magnesium they had given me made him sluggish. The nurse brought Graham to me for a quick kiss and then left the room. My nurses took me out of the OR and to my room for the night. Jeff came back and gave me the news. They were admitting Graham to the NICU. "The NICU?" I couldn't believe it. I thought after making it to 36 weeks he would be safe from the NICU. The neonatologist said that only about 10% of the 36 week babies have to go to the NICU. Percentages obviously weren't working in our favor. I didn't get to hold Graham the day he was born, but my nurse put up pictures of him on my bed so I could look at him throughout the night. The neonatalogist visited the room and informed us that Graham was having some difficulty breathing and that he probably had a massive headache. (She said a lot more, but I was completely out of it and fighting to keep my eyes open!)Graham had been stuck, and the only way he was coming out was via c-section. I can't imagine how bad his head must have been hurting! If you've seen pictures of his enormous cone head, you'd understand. It was all a little surreal. I had a baby, but I didn't feel like I had a baby. The NICU had my baby. Was I really a mom?
I often hear people say that the day their children were born were the happiest days of their lives. Sadly, I can't say that this day a year ago was the happiest day of my life. A full day of labor and no baby to hold? No thank you. But then I think again. Being a mom is one of the happiest parts of my life and that day made me a mom. In retrospect it may have been the happiest day of my life.
Well, Jeff Graham and I just returned from the hospital. As soon as we walked into the building I remembered the smell. We passed the NICU and made our way to Labor and Delivery. We handed cupcakes to the nurses who were so kind and helpful during my long stay. I was so glad that the two nurses who helped deliver Graham were working tonight. I was afraid they had forgotten me, but of course they hadn't. We thanked them for all that they did, and I got a little emotional as we left the building. A year ago Graham came into the world right there in that hosptial. And that's the end of this Graham story. Only one more Graham story to go.
The other day I determined I was finished with letting cold weather overtake my life and decided that G and I would venture into the subarctic temperatures for a little stroll. You can only stay inside so long, so we bundled up and stepped outdoors. Instead of the stroller, I put G in his off road wagon that Nattie and Poppa gave him for Christmas. I was a little nervous about the wagon because we had only used it in the house, but I figured I was overreacting and just needed to let G be a boy. Soon we were making our way around the block. Thank goodness for peripheral vision because I was constantly having to use it! I needed to look at the road, but I also wanted to make sure G was safe. We were about halfway around the block when I saw movement out of the corner of my eye. Instinctively, I jumped and clumsily rammed my arm into the wagon handle. My entire body was jerked backwards by the handle, but somehow, my arms caught G just as he was diving head first out of the wagon. My heart was racing. For a few minutes I wouldn't let him go. But because my arm was killing me, and I was having a little bit of difficulty carrying an almost 1 year old and dragging a wagon, I decided to give the wagon ride one more chance. Don't worry...nothing else happened. I plopped G back in the super duper Radio Flyer ATW wagon and walked backwards the entire way home. Ahh, the things you do to make sure your little ones are safe and secure. And since I'm probably going to have a lot of practice walking backwards until Graham learns the concept of danger, I'm thinking about becoming a professional walker backer. It should definitely be an Olympic sport. Thankfully, most days are a little calmer. We get up and eat breakfast, and we attempt to make it to the gym. I try to avoid getting the elliptical machine that is next to the man who smells like raw onions when he gets good and sweaty. (Trust me, it's bad. Today I even took the elliptical machine with the malfunctioning TV screen just to avoid him. Martha Stewart looked like she was stuck in the middle of a blizzard, and I have no idea what she was making, but at least I was one machine removed from Mr. Onions). We come home. G takes a nap. We eat lunch. We play or run errands. G takes another nap. Sometimes he has a snack. He eats peanut butter and jelly sandwiches now! We play some more. Graham puts his hand to his ear and pretends like he is talking on the phone (Obviously, I have a phone addiction. There were two mornings when he pretended like he was on the phone as soon as he saw me walk in his bedroom door. It's like he can't separate the idea of "momma" from the idea of "phone"). We wait for Jeff to come home. Then, Graham really gets to play. Jeff throws G in the air, dangles him by his feet, and blows raspberries on his stomach. We eat dinner and by 8:00 he is usually on his way to bed. Exciting huh? Yawn. I am boring myself just writing this, but I promise you a baby in real life is pretty entertaining. Right before your eyes you watch one of God's people grow physically, intellectually, and hopefully one day spiritually. Right before your eyes you see the hiccups and kicks you could once only feel. You witness the baby that was once inside you playing and laughing and taking on a personality of his own. Maybe I had crazier stories when I was working at Allstate, but I most certainly have a better story developing before me. I'm watching and nurturing a child as he becomes an adult and that, my friend, is quite amazing.
I've always been terrified of cooking an entire chicken. I don't care what it costs, I'm going to have nicely packaged boneless skinless chicken breasts for dinner. It might have something to do with the time I put a whole chicken in a crock pot, forgot to take out the giblets, and the entire thing disintegrated into some indistinguishable form of mushy chicken soup, but nonetheless, I'm scared. Well, my mom gave me a recipe that she said was delicious, so I thought I would venture out and try the whole chicken thing one more time. The recipe is pretty simple.
First, you wash and pat dry the chicken. Oh, and please remove the bag of guts while you're at it! Then rub in some herbs. We used Herbs de Provence, but you could use basil and thyme. You also need to add salt and pepper. Make sure you season the inside and outside of the chicken. Then, you cut an onion, lemon, and garlic head in half and insert them in the cavity. The first time I cooked this dish, I forgot to put the onion in the cavity, and the flavor was a little too lemony. Next, melt some butter and brush it over the entire chicken. You can then put carrots or other vegetables in the bakeware with the chicken and bake it for 1 1/2 hours at 425 degrees. After about 45 minutes, brush some more butter on the chicken- especially on the legs.
I'm not sure if it had anything to do with baking it in the Le Creuset I got for Christmas, but when I pulled that chicken out of the oven, it was prettiest thing I'd ever seen. A chicken that was perfectly brown and crisp and smelled delicious. It tasted just as wonderful. You can make a gravy with the drippings and whip up some mashed potatoes for a tasty meal. It looks so fancy and is an almost fool proof recipe...again just remember to put the onion IN the cavity! I was going to take a picture, but I couldn't find my camera at the time. So, you'll just have to trust me. It was beautiful and yummy! Fryer chickens are so inexpensive, and I used the leftover chicken to make chicken pot pie the next day. I'm converted. I'm now a whole chicken cooking kind of girl.